Hiring within the community
From: Barbara Lynch (dancerbarbphch.org)
Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2006 14:33:56 -0700 (PDT)
Barbara Sarah wrote:

> Ulster County (NY) Cohousing is in the process of re-visitng the question
of a policy regarding hiring people from within the community to do work for
the community. We'd appreciate any wisdom/experience that others have had
with such a policy. Do you do it or not? If yes, how has it worked? If not,
what's that been like?

My community has been discussing this isssue since before movein, when we
decided not to hire from within for a variety of reasons.  For another bunch
of reasons, we've been revisiting this decision for many months.  We have a
9 page proposal under discussion.  We're only tackling the issue of hiring
handyman/contractor people.  I've copied just the pros and cons below from
that proposal.  We require outside contractors to provide proof of liability
insurance, workman's compensation, and that the community is named as an
additionally insured for liability.  A sticking point is requiring the same
of a community worker who is being paid.

I know that cohousers traditionally are not so legalistic, but we have done
a lot of research on this topic and the experience or others has been mixed.
We contacted people directly and some said things they wouldn't say on this
list.   Some cohousing communities hire people from within for a wide
variety of work with no difficulty.  Others say, "Don't do it!" and tell why
it's been unsuccessful in their community.  So we continue to proceed
cautiously.

Barbara Lynch

PROS and CONS 

 

There are pros and cons to hiring qualified community members. There are
pros and cons to hiring outside people. Both options entail risks-- legal,
financial, emotional. The following focuses on the pros and cons of hiring a
qualified community member. 

 

PROS  

 

1.      A qualified community member is more available and motivated to fix
things in an emergency and to deal with projects that are too small to bid
to contractors.

 

2.      A qualified community member has a lot of motivation to do a good
job because he/she lives here and wants to maintain a nice community for us
all.

 

3.      It's an opportunity to build expertise with a qualified community
member, which will benefit the whole community.

 

 

CONS 

 

1.      Paying one community member creates a commercial relationship
between him/her and the community. This might affect interpersonal
relationships within the community.

 

2.      We don't want a creeping monetarism to develop in our community.

 

3.      The community needs to work more on process skills such as conflict
resolution. We don't have enough of those skills yet to do something as
risky as hiring a community member.  

 

4.      Hiring a community member may put that person into a powerful
position relative to the HOA/community decisions.

 

5.      We're a big enough organization that we should deal with
professionals at arm's length and only hire outside service providers.

 

6.      Paying some community members and not others may be unfair, and may
cause resentment and conflict.  

 

7.      Paying a community member may discourage other community members
from getting involved with a task or stretching themselves to learn new
skills from volunteering.

 

Barbara Lynch
Pleasant Hill Cohousing in Pleasant Hill, CA
http://www.phch.org/
Cohousing/US Board member

 

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